How is 2018 going so far in terms of you and your teams focusing on the improvement projects you have planned out for the year ahead?

Many businesses that I speak to struggle with making time for their improvements. Everyone realises that if they can spend some time on their improvements then it will free up more time down the line. It is a virtuous cycle, but one that is difficult to get started.

Whilst there is not one single answer that will resolve this for everyone, here are some quick ideas to help you if you have yet to start spending proper time on your improvement projects:

  • Realise that you don’t need much time to make a difference. Even ten minutes properly used can make a big difference. Stop looking for big chunks of time and start managing the small chunks.
  • Consider using the start of the day for improvements only. Parkinson’s Law will help you out with this one (the normal busy-ness will compress into the rest of the day).
  • Try protecting your diary, or if this isn’t an obvious way forward consider using the ‘Hour of Pain’ approach I mentioned in my last newsletter. Click here to read that article.
  • Piggyback onto existing activities / meetings with a small amount of continuous improvement focus. Use this established routine to help you develop new habits.
  • Take a time out to figure out the payback of the improvement, and if it is great enough look to hire in extra staff to work on the improvement (or re-deploy existing staff).
As I said, there isn’t a one size fits all answer to this challenge. If you need to make some changes to how your business works this year then the simple reality is that you will need to be spending a proportionate amount of time on continuous improvement activities.

Giles Johnston

Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who consults with businesses to improve their productivity and on time delivery performance. Giles is also the author of Business Process Re-engineering and the creator of the Making It Happen toolkit.